Majestrum: science vs. magic in future Aeons

I’m currently reading Majestrum by Matthew Hughes, a very entertaining and imaginative science-fantasy-mystery set on Old Earth sometime after the seventeenth Aeon.  (Like Hughes’ other Old Earth tales I’ve read, it’s very Vancian in style, language, and concept — I love it!)  In the book, one of the challenges faced by the protagonist Henghis Hapthorn is a coming shift in the nature of the universe from rationality to sympathetic association, aka “magic.”  Rationality (and, by extension, science and technology) and sympathetic association (magic) are points on a continuum; the nature of the universe is constantly in a state of flux between these two dominant aspects.  

Of course, this gets me thinking about science-fantasy gaming.  Majestrum‘s rationality-sympathetic association continuum meshes with some related thoughts I’ve recently been kicking around.  

  • In EPT, Psychic Ability attribute was of great importance to magic-users, since it gave you a bonus when rolling to see if your spell worked properly or if it fizzled.  I’m really intrigued by the idea of tweaking the EPT magic-user for use in Zhontaar — especially since Barker’s class has a pseudo-scientific approach with “magic” being the manipulation of psychic power — but I haven’t actually taken the plunge.  (Not sure if I will…) 
  • Since I don’t use Clerics or divine magic in my Zhontaar game, I’ve taken a cue from EPT and considered dropping Wisdom in favor of a different named atttribute that reflects psychic aptitude, intuition and willpower (for lack of a better descriptor, I’m calling it “Psyche.”)  Haven’t actually implemented this yet.
  • If magic use (sympathetic association) and intuition is measured by Psyche, then Intelligence measures rationality: education, reasoning, and scientific understanding.  Intelligence may help one understand the theory and history of magic, but not necessarily its practice.  Those with high Intelligence would have a greater understanding of scientific fields like alchemy, medicine and engineering, which could potentially translate into in-game bonuses to decipher scripts, use artifacts and advanced technology, construct apparatuses, etc.  Perhaps even an “Artificer” or “Scholar” class could be created with an emphasis on these special abilities…

More on this in the relatively near future (I hope) as things develop.


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